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Regular readers of this blog and attendees of our live events are probably aware of our affinity towards London band Escapists. The big sounding indie rock quartet have been championed by LFC for a little while now, and currently in the midst of a busy and exciting 2012, what with the lead track of their latest EP, “Burial”, doing the rounds on XFM and Radio 1 and the band recently appearing at high profile festivals such as Live At Leeds and The Great Escape.
To our ears, their live show has gone from strength to strength over last year or so. Recent gigs at The Borderline in London and at the aforementioned Great Escape were really indicative of a band very much on the rise, and with a point to prove. “Burial”, for one, is sounding nothing short of monumental towards the end of their set, and is proving to be quite the head-turner.
We last caught up with their lead singer and guitarist Simon Glancy on the eve of our fourth birthday show at The Macbeth in January 2011, when Escapists appeared with Channel Cairo, The Collectable Few and Let’s Buy Happiness at what was our busiest ever live event. We thought we’d grab a minute with him to see what the band have been up to in the eighteen months since then.
What have you been up to since we last spoke in Jan 2011?
S: We’ve been pretty busy, we released a single in October (“Post Gospel Blues”) and we’ve just released an EP (“Burial”). In general we’ve just been trying to play as many shows as possible and make the live show something special.
How’s the EP doing?
S: Really well, the title track got onto the XFM evening playlist and got some Radio 1 airplay. The reviews have been good too.
What’s “Burial” about?
S: Like most of our songs, it’s a pretty rousing track paired with a fairly bleak, introspective lyric. It’s really about the uncertainty of what comes after death.
What was the inspiration behind the video?
S: I found a video of a scientific experiment about decomposition online and thought it was harrowingly beautiful and would suit the music well.
What does the remainder of 2012 hold for Escapists?
S: We’re playing a show for Huw Stephens on 10 July at The Social and a few festivals (Lounge On The Farm, BT Live as part of the Olympics), and we’re going to make videos for all the tracks on the EP. We’ll probably put some more music out before the end of the year too.
The “Burial” EP by Escapists is out now via Euphonios.
Since the US release of their debut album “If You’re Young” last August, The Static Jacks have been a busy bunch. Two tours of the States and two of Europe / the UK have happened, with the band sharing stages with the likes of Howler, The Cribs and The Wombats along the way (famously appearing at Brixton Academy in February with the latter).
They’re currently showing no signs of slowing down, either – the band are back on the road in the US this week, again lending support to The Wombats on a 13 date tour (23 April – 9 May) – which includes notable appearances at Webster Hall in NYC and the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles.
Also, rather like Arctic Monkeys did after their debut LP, the band have just announced a new standalone 4-track EP, “Spray Tan” (a reference to the orange looking lady on the “Into The Sun” single, we wonder?), will be released next month to bridge the gap between first and second albums.
Recorded with producer Andrew Maury (also the producer of debut EP “Laces”) in five fast days last summer, we’re told, the opening track “Young Guns” displays a rough and ready grit we’ve come to associate with their live shows, and is as hard hitting and memorable as anything on their debut album. Pick it up for free below, and if you’re heading out to any of current dates, expect to hear it in the set alongside the other newbies.
Oxford’s earnest indie rockers Spring Offensive released a video this Saturday just gone for their new single “Worry Fill My Heart”.
Musically, we’re deciphering bits of Wild Beasts, Bombay Bicycle Club and fellow Oxfordites Foals in the jerky, stop-start guitars, and vocalist Lucas Whitworth’s confessional lyrics about having a shit job and not being able to stump up the rent (“I asked no one for the life I’m leading”; “I’m counting down the seconds until my shift is up”), as well as an allusion to the frightening inevitability of it all (“How dare I even think I could be any exception”), recall the likes of The Rakes and Hard-Fi, two bands who famously popularised songs about life’s banalities.
It’s an intense and captivating four minutes or so, that will certainly resonate with many of the current recession experiencing generation who might be seeking a creative outlet in the arts, and have yet to make it pay. In that sense – full marks for this lot for quite simply telling it how it is, a trait that, alongside their hard working nature, will help to build upon their already devoted fan base.
If you’d like to hear their tales of urban woe in a live setting, they’ll be on tour around the UK from the 29th March til 5th April. A short stint of German dates follows directly after. Be sure to pick up the “Worry Fill My Heart” single from iTunes too, which also includes B-side “Carrier” (below).
Miami’s wacky pop purveyors ANR, who we last heard from when they played an LFC show in an East London basement (The Victory) back in May, have recorded a brand new track entitled “Blood On Blood”.
Mixed by the in-demand Ben H. Allen (whose recent credits include Animal Collective, Reptar and Bombay Bicycle Club’s critically acclaimed new LP), the track featured on a double A-sided 7″ release on Neon Gold Records last month, alongside older song (and latest album highlight) “It’s Around You”.
More direct than anything on the “Stay Kids” album, it channels everyone from Passion Pit to Muse (to our ears at least) and got us all hot under the collar when we first heard it live at the aforementioned gig. The excitement levels didn’t wane upon listening to the studio version either, which is always a promising sign. We’re looking forward to the band returning to the UK.
Five great tracks: Edition #1 (Escapists, Yukon Blonde, Kyla La Grange, Various Cruelties, Hot Spoke)
Here’s an attempt to bring to your attention more stuff than we normally do, with a simple, easily-digestible roundup of some great tracks (and bands) we’ve come across of late. Whether it’s signed, unsigned, electronic, organic or recorded in a toilet is not our concern – it just needs to be good. Laissez-Faire, aren’t we? Here goes:
Escapists – “Church Bells” (Unsigned)
Regular readers of this blog should already be familiar with this South London quartet, a band who have played our live nights on a number of occasions. They’re just about to release their debut single, ‘Post Gospel Blues’ in October, but here’s another track from their debut full-length that they’ve posted online. Front man Simon Glancy sings over some aurally pleasing piano chords to create a beautiful and emotive two-and-a-half minutes. If it’s not set to be the LP closer, it should be.
Yukon Blonde – “Fire” (Nevado)
Not a Kasabian cover but a brand new song from Yukon Blonde, Vancouver’s answer to the likes of Local Natives and Fleet Foxes. Off their new EP, ‘Fire/Water’, it’s a retro styled, breezy rocker that evokes images of dog eared 12″ copies of “Harvest”, the sun, and wide open spaces – which they’ll no doubt see a lot of during their forthcoming mammoth 60-date (yes, 60) tour of North America.
MP3: Yukon Blonde – Fire
Kyla La Grange – “I Could Be” (Chess Club)
‘I Could Be’ is the B-side to Kyla La Grange’s latest single on Chess Club Records, ‘Been Better’. Dark, moody and sung in hushed tones, it sits somewhere in between Cat Power and Anna Calvi and displays why KLG is amongst the hottest property on the London music scene right now. The chorus packs a hefty punch, too, with La Grange displaying her remarkable singing talent to its fullest extent. We’re eagerly waiting more where this came from.
Various Cruelties – “Chemicals” (Hideout)
Since we last wrote about London’s soul-pop outfit Various Cruelties in March, they’ve gone on to sign a major record deal with Hideout – a subsidiary of Mercury. Their highly promising early demo ‘Chemicals’ has been re-recorded and now sounds even bigger and more anthemic than before – presumably the intention of their A&R team. Not that it always works that way – sometimes energy and character can be sapped out by expensive production – so kudos to those involved. We expect this to soundtrack a goals round-up near you very soon.
Hot Spoke – “Grimwood” (Unsigned)
Hot Spoke are a new indie/folk band from Down Under, from the same Sydney scene as the much vaunted Cloud Control, Boy And Bear and The Jezabels. They cite Wilco, Jeff Buckley, Nancy Sinatra and Kate Bush amongst their influences, and we’d suggest they’ve probably listened to a PJ Harvey record or two in the past. Singer Vanessa Jade is sure to turn heads and generate plaudits with her very impressive set of pipes – which take centre-stage on ‘Grimwood’, a brooding and very accomplished three-or-so minutes. Be sure to download the similarly veined ‘Chromatic’ below.
The more eagle-eyed of you may well be aware of our past involvement with the Brooklyn soul-infused quartet Ambassadors.
In October 2009, in the band’s formative stages, we arranged for them to come over to the UK for a series of shows – one down in Brighton, for Communion, and four up in London, including our own night at the now defunct Legion venue in Old Street. All were memorable gigs, with the band leaving quite an impression on their audiences each night. During their week long trip, they also recorded a memorable session for Balcony TV – you can view that here. In the (almost) two years since then, they’ve honed their craft and slowly built up a fan base back in New York.
Over the last few months, interesting cover versions have been appearing regularly on their website (we featured their weird and wonderful take on The Strokes’ ‘Is This It’ back in April), and have been given away for free – which has served to keep things current and interesting. Now, the band have a debut full-length (entitled ‘Litost’) ready for release and are fresh from high-profile opening slots with The Postelles, Darwin Deez and Viva Brother all over the East Coast.
“Unconsolable”, the first single off said LP, has been put out as a free download, and with any luck should get the ball well and truly rolling for them. It’s a mesemerising, scruff-of-the-neck-grabbing four and a half minutes – all frantic, dual percussion and containing one of the year’s most memorable hooks, delivered by front man Sam Harris’ unforgettable, emotion-filled vocal. Couple this with the far more orthodox, yet perfectly executed pop-rock of “Weight / Lightness” (another album track currently in the public domain), which is early U2-like in its overt ambition, and you have the makings of the next big FM friendly rock band – along the lines of Kings Of Leon, Foo Fighters, The Temper Trap or Local Natives. A&R men en garde!
Check out the video to Anna Calvi‘s great new single “Desire” – certainly the most commercial thing she’s done to date and a real highlight of her Domino released debut album. Clearly, the label have saved the hard hitter for the summer festival season, and a big impact now now should leave the campaign in good stead for the subsequent “I can’t believe she’s playing there” tour in the autumn (it’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire in this instance).
Before everything kicked off, we were lucky enough to host two of Anna’s early shows – at Paradise By Way Of Kensal Green in November 2008 and The Wilmington Arms in February 2009. Were you at either of these gigs? The second one was particularly special, full of high drama and Calvi’s virtuoso guitar playing – one of those nights where jaws uniformly fell to the floor.
Check out Calvi’s cover of “Surrender” below, which recently appeared as the B-side to her last single, “Blackout”. The song is a Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman adaptation of a 1902 Neopolitan ballad entitled “Torna a Surriento” (“Come Back to Sorrento”), and was also taken on board by Elvis Presley, who scored a number one with it in 1961. Get all that? Good.
Walk The Moon may have more than a fair whiff of cheese about them – the face paint laden Cincinnati, Ohio quartet recall likes of Panic At The Disco (who they’ve actually supported), The All American Rejects and The Killers in their college-radio tailored jams, but that hasn’t prevented them from becoming one of 2011′s most talked about new bands.
It’s not hard to see why, either – one listen to the likes of ‘Anna Sun’ and ‘Lisa Baby’ will have you shaking your hips in an instant, and if you’re an A&R man, the sound of a cash register ringing loudly in your head (as far as we can see, the band remain unsigned). This is indie-pop at its purest and most carefree form, that only a real scrooge would resist.
Gig wise, they’ve been a busy bunch in the last few months – an avalanche of buzz at SXSW (of course) led to debut UK appearances in May (a handful of London shows plus a slot at The Great Escape) and a recently completed tour with Grouplove back in the States. We imagine something equally high profile is in the pipeline just now.
Certainly, we haven’t heard a catchier song this year than the aforementioned ‘Anna Sun’, and its “We got no money, but we got heart” refrain is sure to strike a cord with the mp-free generation. Indeed, if Walk The Moon aren’t a household name by next year, we’ll eat the laptop this article is being typed on. Their self-released debut LP is available from their Bandcamp page for a paltry $9 USD – grab it while you still can…
Twenty something Swede Nova Drougge, aka Nottee, has been around for a little while now. Emerging onto the blogosphere in early 2009 with two sterling, pop heavy demos (‘Control’ and ‘Young Modern Life’), she got lauded by many a music authority and even appeared on Kitsune’s Maison 8 compilation in October of that year (usually a decent barometer of what’s simmering right now).
A handful of London club shows took place in mid-2010, and then Nottee seemed to disappear without a trace, rather than capitalise on the steadily building buzz. We can only guess she returned to her native Gothenburg to hone her sound – the results of which are manifested on current sparkling double A-sided single “Don’t Waste Your Light On Me” / “Share This” (which came out in March through Swedish label Emotion).
Its polished, high sheen sound is certainly one for fans of current pack leader (as far as Swedish female singers go) Lykke Li, or harking a bit further back, Fleetwood Mac or Carly Simon. Indeed, Nottee has pure, dancefloor-friendly (or soothing, morning after) pop at the top of her manifesto – and with any luck, things should pick up properly sooner rather than later. We haven’t heard a great deal better in the last few years for sure.
MP3: Nottee – Control
A little while back, a friend of mine forwarded me an Email I’d sent to him in the summer of 2007, telling him to check out the first ever recorded version of Florence And The Machine’s now ubiquitous ‘Kiss With A Fist’. ‘Turns out you were right about this one’ he said, but what’s more important is the fact I now had a copy of what must be a pretty rare mp3 (I’d previously lost the original on an old hard drive, or something).
This version of what turned out to be Florence’s 2008 debut single (on Moshi Moshi) is simply flooring, which is why I’ve decided to post it on here for y’all now, in 2011. The energy and rawness (it’s just her trademark howl and a guitar) is something to behold, and (of course) was not fully captured or recreated on the commercial, full studio take.
In any case, it displays the traits and qualities that make A&R people (and the rest of us) fall off their chairs, and from this evidence, it’s no surprise than FATM went on to become a UK chart topping, Oscar performing phenomenon. As we await album number #2, out next year perhaps, turn this up and listen to some unbridled talent in its purest form.
MP3: Florence & The Machine – Kiss With A Fist (2007 demo)